Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Expedition Canoeing

The Blizzard of 2011 has come through Oklahoma, and is headed northeast.  We only got four inches here in the Northwest, but from Oklahoma City to the northeast, they got up to 20 inches and up to five-foot drifts.  The temperature and winds are the story, however.  Wind chills of 20-deg. below zero and 50 mph winds.  The windows are whistling, there's the steady roar of wind outside, the birds hiding wherever they can get out of the wind and venturing forth occasionally for the seed we put out for them.  We went by the library yesterday to stock up with enough books to get us through the week.
I earlier read Wilderness Canoeing by Cliff Jacobson.  This book is definitely more exhaustive.
Nearly every book I’ve read lists Expedition Canoeing , by Cliff Jacobson, (300pp.)in its bibliography, and many reference the manual directly in its text. This is the definitive canoe tripping and camping manual. The edition I read, pictured above, is the 3rd Edition, but the latest one, the 4th Edition, is called the 20th Anniversary Edition. This covers about anything you can have questions about, such as researching the route, trip planning, canoes and outfittng, gear, the art of packing, covers, food, tents, portaging, navigation, solo canoeing, hazards and rescue, preserving and caring for trails and rivers, caring for and making repairs on canoes of any material, handling finances, and much more. (He did exclude wood/canvas canoes, because he felt they had been dealt with exhaustively elsewhere.) There are six appendices that cover everything from finding maps, guides, aerial photos, how to ship your canoe by truck, train, plane, or barge, the best sources for gear and specialty items, like where to buy material and fittings to make your own canoe cover. One of the things I really appreciated was that the instructive material is not just the opinion of one person, even if he does have thirty years of experience, but he incorporates the opinions and lessons learned by twenty-five of the most respected paddlers in the field, from professional trip guides, expedition paddlers, whitewater champions, experts in back country medicine and survival techniques, and noted writers, lecturers, and instructors on all related subjects. In Chapter 21, Advice from the Experts, he asked each of the pros basically, “If you could tell a novice or intermediate paddler the most important lessons you have learned from your vast experience, what would they be?” The book is slanted toward those wanting to trek across the Northern Canadian territories, travel above the Arctic Circle, or run some of the wildest and least known rivers in the world. The value of this is obvious. If you can survive and thrive under those conditions, you can paddle anywhere. In short, your paddling library will not be complete until it includes this volume.

The book also contains enjoyable reports on some interesting expeditions, one on which he and Sue Haring were married at Wilberforce Falls on the Hood River. Sue was an independent and highly skilled adventurer, diver, hiker, and canoeist that had traveled much of the world. Cliff met her after the death of his first wife, and their mutual friendship and respect grew over the years. In 1992, Cliff was leading a trip down the Hood, 2,311 miles into the remote North. Sue agreed to marry him if their wedding was part of another great adventure. Wilberforce Falls would serve. She would fit out a white dress with ermine trim, and wear that with her green “wellie” boots. She made up a wedding pack containing her dress, bouquet, wedding cake, a white shirt, tie, and cumberbund for him, and smoked oysters, kippered herring, sardines, nuts and candy for the reception. When they unpacked the bush plane, the wedding pack was missing. The bush pilot later discovered it had never been loaded in the plane, and flew back with it. He descended and flew over the group as he opened the door and kicked the pack out. You can imagine the pack hitting the tundra at close to a hundred miles per hour. Except for two tears in the bottom of the pack, everything was fine, including the wedding cake. Now that is knowing how to pack.

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